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The Devil And Tom Walker

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In the short story “The Devil and Tom Walker”, the author shows greed by the main character selling his soul for a large treasure, being a cheap and greedy moneylender, and the lack of the main character and his wife sharing the wealth between each other in order to show that people will do anything for money and become rich.

“The Devil and Tom Walker” was written by Washington Irving. Washington was a very famous American author. Washington Irving was born in New York on April 3, 1783. In his childhood he only went through a basic education. During this time, he showed interest in reading and writing (Washington). In 1815, Irving moved to London to work for his family’s business. But, the family business closed due to failure. After that occurrence, he decided to be a committed full time writer. He thought that to be successful he would need to write differently than the American author would. “Irving believed that in order for an American author to succeed; he or she had to imitate the literature of the British” (Short, 48). This lead to Irving’s first book, The Sketch Book, which contained 32 short stories. He decided to write the name under the pen name of Geoffrey Crayon (Washington). Similarly, another book he wrote was called Tales of a Traveler. Tales of a Traveler contains one of Washington Irving’s famous stories, “The Devil and Tom Walker.” Eventually Irving came back to America and passed away in 1859. Washington Irving was the creator of the short story from (Washington). He left a very large legacy in literature and America, “Here he died, ending life which owed its own power not only to mark if limited, literary talents and to essential sweetness of character, but also to the coincidence of these gifts with formative year of nineteenth century America” (Washington).

The short story “The Devil and Tom Walker” contains many elements of fiction. “The Devil and Tom Walker” is about a miserable man named Tom Walker who one day meets the devil. The devil wants Tom Walker’s soul in exchange for a large treasure. Initially Tom Walker does not go through on the deal because he wants to make his wife mad (His relationship with his wife is not on good terms). But, Tom Walker’s wife goes to meet the devil and the devil kills her. With this happening, Tom Walker decides to go through on the deal because now he could keep all the money to himself and not share a penny. At first, the devil wanted Tom Walker to be a slave trader, but Tom thought that was horrific. Now, they both agree that Tom Walker will become a moneylender. This makes him filthy rich! But, Tom Walker becomes rich through putting people out of business. Eventually, Tom Walker knows that he is eventually going to suffer, so he tries to cheat the devil. He becomes very religious, but soon enough the devil snatches him and now Tom Walker has terrible fate. This shows how Washington Irving portrays the theme of greed. Joyce Moss supports this by saying, “While Irving’s characters are exaggerated for comic affect, he exposes miserliness, greed, hypocrisy, and spiritual decay in early eighteenth century New England” (104).

One way Washington Irving expresses the theme of greed is when Tom Walker sells his soul to the devil in order to get a large treasure. When Tom Walker was walking home, he took a shortcut through a swamp. In the swamp, he meets his future, the devil. The devil told Tom Walker that he can have a big treasure if he sells his soul in exchange. Tom Walker was a very greedy man. Washington Irving states, “...he (Tom Walker) was a man to stick at trifles when money was in view” (27). Soon enough, Tom Walker sells his soul to the devil and gets his treasure that was promised. The devil seems to help make the deal by treating Tom Walker as a friend. When Tom Walker first meets the devil, the devil says, “the same at your service’ with a half civil nodвЂ™Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (Irving, 28). So it seemed as if the devil is there to be right by Tom Walker. But, the devil says this to trick Tom Walker. Short stories for Students support this by saying, “Eventually however Tom is duped by the false kindness of Old Scratch and blinded by his own greed” (52). The devil does this in order to obtain Tom Walkers soul. As a moneylender, Tom Walker has very bad morals. When he is a moneylender he puts people out of bussiness and tries to make profit off the peoples losses. Washingtong Irving descrbies Tom Walker as, “Thus Tom was universal friend of the needy, and acted like a вЂ?friend in need’; that is to say, he always exacted good pay and good security. In proportion to the distress of the applicant was the hardness of the terms. He accumulated bonds and mortgages gradually squeezing his customers closer and closer, and sent them at length, dry as a sponge, from his door” (33). Tom Walker doesn’t seem to care about what his afterlife has in store for him. Everything he is doing is just making him worse as a person. This shows how Tom Walker was greedy and how some people will do anything to make money.

Washington Irving also shows the theme of greed by how Tom Walker was a very cheap and greedy moneylender. During the time of this setting in “The Devil and Tom Walker,” people tried to do anything to make money. Joyce states, “while many had a keen sense of business, pothers were unethical in their dogged pursuit of riches (102).” This statement illustrates Tom Walker very. When Tom was discussing the terms of the deal with the devil, Tom wanted to make his interest rate even higher then what the devil origianally planned. Then devil said, “ You shall lend money at two percent a month” (Irving, 32). Tom Walker then said, “ Egad, I’ll charge four” (Irving, 32). It is a pretty dispicable thing to be even greedier than the devil himself. Also, when Tom Walker was a moneylender he didn’t even care if he would put someone out of business. When Tom Walker was closing a deal with a customer, the customer told Tom Walker that he needed more time to get the money, so he could feed his family. Tom said, “I must take care of



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